Congratulations to Overwatch pro Kim “Geguri” Se-yeon. This is one small step for a woman, one giant leap for female gamers in a male-dominated industry.
Now, nobody’s saying that the gaming industry is a happy, loving, Barney the Dinosaur-themed carnival at the best of times. Online play is dogged by toxic communities, hackers, griefers, rage-quitters and wannabe Eminems rapping down their headsets for the whole lobby’s enjoyment. It’s no wonder we’re all feeling that way, either, with horrors like season passes, microtransactions and pay-to-win fiascos to contend with.
Never mind all of that, though. By the far biggest issue surrounding the community is its treatment of women. All too often, female characters are presented as damsels in distress, or wearing ‘armor’ that’s… well, it’s none too practical. In recent years, we’ve come a long way in that regard, with protagonists like Aloy of Horizon Zero Dawn and Lara Croft’s return making a huge statement about the women of video games. But what of the women playing the games?
As the stereotypes will tell you, female gamers often don’t get the respect they deserve. They’re seen as a liability, as though they have to ‘prove’ themselves, or even worse. As a recent study demonstrated, 57% of female players are harassed after revealing their gender online. It’s a sad, sad situation, but again, the tides are starting to turn. Which brings us back to Kim “Geguri” Se-yeon.
As IGN reports, Geguri is a respected Overwatch pro, who became the first female Overwatch League player in 2018. The 19-year-old plays with the Shanghai Dragons, which would be a major accomplishment in and of itself. Recently, though, TIME has bestowed a huge honor upon her, by naming her as one of their 2019 Next Generation Leaders.
In a world where Ninja was paid $1 million just to play and tweet about Apex Legends, there’s no understating just how influential these high-profile gamers can be. The fact that Geguri is making huge waves in eSports, though, is great news for female gamers around the world. As she herself has said, “Since I am the only female player in the whole league, I think there are a lot of people who look up to me and see me as a role model… knowing this, I’m trying a lot harder to inspire others to get to where I am today.”